The Campus Corporatists Run Scared on Free Speech

A editorial from the University of Maryland lays it out:

Colleges should “screen” speakers to ensure that they are not giving a platform to “intolerant perspectives,” a University of Maryland student argues in a recent op-ed.

“There is nothing inherently wrong with screening speakers, teachers and even students on the campus,” sophomore Moshe Klein declares in an op-ed for The Diamondback, arguing that “intolerant” points of view “prevent certain groups of people from participating in campus life safely.”

There’s a great deal of noise on this subject about the “snowflakes,” but I think the current campus inhabitants’ aversion to free speech (not universal, I might add) stems from two things.

The first is a decidedly corporatist mentality towards education and life itself.  We’ve sold college education–and inspired a generation to go deep into hock for it–as the road to a good-paying job, never mind that many of the majors these people take are dead-ends in that search.  If people come on campus to “rock the boat,” that puts the careerist enterprise in jeopardy.  The boat the students have been on all their lives is one that steers to port most of the time, so it’s no surprise right-wing speakers get attacked the most.

The second stems from the unstable underpinnings of millennial life.  Raised in families that disintegrate on a whim, living in a society that constantly hectors them to “reinvent themselves” while pulling the rug out from under the new reinvention, exhorted to “seek their dream” which may or may not make it possible for them to eat, watching technology blow away entire industries and sectors of the economy, it’s little wonder that stability is highly prized by these people.  My own students are attracted to government positions and, in civil engineering, that’s entirely sensible, and I encourage them to consider that.

I think that the Millennials are making a mistake wanting to suppress free speech, but until people are more secure in who they are and less inclined to seek validation in a corporatist world, that attitude isn’t going to change.

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